Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Beatles on Film

In total The Beatles made five feature length films and the sound tracks were released to great applause all in a mere seven years spell. Lennon and McCartney were both opposed to the musical style where people just sang instead of spoke and preferred to include their singing as part of the plot or as incidental music. Throughout their recording career the Fab Four always used their albums to showcase a spectrum of popular music which demonstrated their wide musical influences and song writing talents. In 1963 the boys embarked on a new venture with their debut film entitled A Hard Day’s Night. The title came from Ringo and the screen play was written by Alun Owen and directed by Dick Lester. Lennon wrote the song but could not reach the high note so Paul took lead vocal. The album was recorded on four-track tape and consisted entirely of all Lennon and McCartney compositions. The soundtrack sticks to basic rock and roll instrumentation and song format but with a notable exception "And I Love Her," written by both of the lads with the first half sung by Paul and John on the middle eight. This was first of what would become a McCartney ballad. Paul still likes the song today.

Help (1965) had the working title, “Eight arms to hold you” and was shot in full technicolour. The comic adventure featured the Beatles playing themselves with Leo McKern, Eloner Bron and Patrick Cargill in support. The sound track was produced by George Martin and the album demonstrates the influence of Bob Dylan’s folk music on John Lennon. The title track is Help and was written to order but only later did Lennon realize it may have been a subconscious cry for attention. Life in the fast lane was becoming hectic for four working class lads. The standout track on the album was is of course, “Scrambled Eggs,” that’s, Yesterday, which did not appear in the film.

Magical Mystery Tour (1967) was a one-hour television film that met with very poor reviews. Fortunately the soundtrack was far more favorably received, released in December 1967 as a double EP in the UK. After the success of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Paul McCartney wanted to create a film based upon the Beatles and their music. This film was to be unscripted featuring "ordinary" people (including John Lennon's uncle Charlie) traveling on a charabanc bus. The air and expectation anything could happen but it turned out that no interesting adventures actually occurred. During the shoot, more and more cars followed the hand-lettered bus to see what its passengers were up to that a running traffic jam developed. The music was however a great exemplar of British psychedelic music with "Flying", one of two Beatles instrumentals (the first being the often forgotten and very early "Cry for a Shadow").

In 1994 Oasis released their second top-40 single from debut album, "Definitely Maybe." The song was entitled, "Shakermaker". In structure, the chord changes and tempo are literally "flying." Essentially the Noel Gallagher penned track merely added lyrics to "Flying", creating one of the biggest early hits for the Gallagher brothers.

The song for me from the film was McCartney’s “The Fool on the hill.” Why not the chorus is made up of : Eric Clapton, Patti Boyd, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger, Mike McCartney, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, and Keith Richards,

Yellow submarine (1969) was a complete departure and was a full length cartoon featuring Beatle songs but the Fab Four had nothing much else to do with the production. All the character’s voices were voiceovers done by actors and only “All together now” may have been written for the project, but even that is debatable. The Beatles did enjoy when this song was sang by football crowds. (All together now)

Let It Be (1970) was recorded and filmed in early 1969, with production by George Martin, before the release of the Abbey Road album. However, the Beatles were unhappy with the album and it was temporarily shelved. Let It Be was later "re-produced" by Phil Spector and, in 1970, it became the Beatles' final release (13th album). The album was originally titled Get Back, and was planned to be a return to the Beatles' roots but “Let it be” seemed more appropriate in view of the situation with the band (they had broken up). One of the ideas was the works were to be performed live but this fell through and only Get Back was a live version, filmed on the roof of Apple Buildings at 3 Seville Road. The album version was recorded later in the studio but with the famous lines from Lennon added. "I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition." Get Back was Paul’s remake of Lady Madonna and a song to rollercoaster by (McCartney).

No comments: